Planning Your Special Day
Sample Simple Ceremony
Renewal of Vows
Let’s make your special day a joyous sacred occasion! I am an experienced Minister, legally certified in WV and NC and am familiar with weddings, handfastings and other life transition ceremonies. I specialize in nondenominational spiritual rituals and will also perform legal secular marriages, renewal of vows and commitment ceremonies for life partners. Don’t know whether you should be married or handfasted? Click here for a short explanation of the difference.
A handfasting or wedding is more than cords, candles and joyous celebration. It is a serious commitment made in love and trust before Divinity. It marks a transition that is both sacred and full of obligations. I do not join two people lightly. This Ritual forms a bond between people that is not only emotional, physical and spiritual but also financial; with accompany responsibilities to each other. Before I consider joining two people in the ceremony of their choice, I require at least two consultations, as I believe this is a very serious step, weather legal wedding or spiritual handfasting, and should be taken in a responsible manner.
I will also officiate at other transitional rituals, such as memorial, adulthood, seasonal celebrations and others.
It is important to plan well ahead, so contact me as soon as you begin your planning! I am frequently available on weekends and on some weekdays during the summer. Depending on how far away you are and how elaborate the ceremony, prices vary from $75 - $200.
These questions will help you think seriously about becoming married and give me information to work with. The first section is basic information, the second is full of the nuts and bolts questions of marriage and the last involves the beautiful ceremony you want to plan.
1. Your names?
2. Date for the ceremony?
3. Do you want to be handfasted or legally married in the eyes of the law?
4. How old are each of you?
5. How long have you been seriously seeing each other?
6. Are you both single now?
7. Have either of you been married or handfasted before?
The following are a few questions for you to consider together, talk over and answer honestly. Living a life together is a serious commitment and should be treated as such. It is not important that you talk with me about them, although I am available for counsel. It is important, however, that you discuss these with each other.
Do you and your partner honestly, calmly and frequently discuss your feelings and desires? Practical matters? Do you let them know as soon as you are unhappy about an event? Have you made your expectation clear to your partner? Conflict is inevitable, how will you resolve difficult disagreements?
Family: Children and In-laws
Do you want to have children? If so, how many and when? What do you plan to do if an unplanned pregnancy occurs? How will having children affect your careers, home responsibilities, recreation, finances and lifestyle? Have you thought of fertility problems or adoption? How do you plan on disciplining your children? How much a part of your life are your parents and siblings? How much time and involvement are you planning to have after marriage? Will your parents stay with you when they are older?
Can you bring up and talk calmly about money matters? Have you worked on a household budget? Can you afford the plans and things you want? Do you have plans to maintain and increase your finances? Who will pay for which expenses? Have you discussed obtaining big expense items? Vacations? Vehicles and home? If you are in debt now, what is your plan for getting out of it? What of retirement and investments?
Do each of you have a solid reliable job with benefits? If not, do you have plans to begin one soon? If one of you will not be working, is that alright with the other and can your household afford this arrangement? Are you comfortable with what the other is doing to make a living? Is there additional training or school in the future? How much impact will your careers have on your home life? Will you have time for vacations and family events?
Are you both comfortable physically loving the other and do your desires mesh harmoniously? Can you discuss openly, feeling safe with the other, what you want from your sexual relationship? What makes you uncomfortable? Have you discussed sexual frequency, preferences, fantasies, masturbation, pornography and other expectations? How will you deal with differences in desire and the cycle of intensity? How much is enough and how much is too little? Are you both healthy or does one or both have STDs?
Who fixes dinner and who does dishes? Who is responsible for the yard and house upkeep? House cleaning? Laundry? Are your separate definitions of “clean” similar? Who maintains vehicles and other equipment? If children are involved, who sees they are fed, clean, taken to games and events, spends quality time with them and attends to their health? Toilette seat up or down?
Health and drugs
Do you drink or use other recreational drugs? Do you use illegal drugs? Do you use tobacco? What is the frequency and does the use negatively affect the person’s personality, career, emotions and interaction with others? Are you both comfortable with this? Is health a major concern? Will there be an emphasis on nutrition, exercise and fitness?
Do you share a similar spiritual path? If different, have both come up with compromises for practices, beliefs and celebrations? How important is it that the other has differences from yours? Do you understand and respect each other’s beliefs? How will the children be raised within these beliefs?
Others in your relationship
How much time to you spend with friends away from your partner and is this comfortable for both? How socially involved do you want to be? How often would you like to go out with friends? Are you planning for an open marriage with multiple partners, or monogamy? If polyamorous, have guidelines and boundaries been firmly set and understood by both partners? Are both of you comfortable with these decisions?
What does the future hold?
What are your plans for 5 years? 10? 20? Have long range plans been made to get you where you want to be?
Why get married?
Why have you decided marriage and why now? Have you grown to know and love your partner for whom they are and not whom you want them to be? Why do you want to choose this person above all others to be your partner? Have both of you expressed clearly what this step means to you and how you see it changing your relationship? Have you discussed the ceremony and the important symbolism, ritual and words you personally want to include?
1. How many people will be attending?
2. Do you want others involved in the ceremony? If so… who are they and what do you see them attending to?
3. What parts would you like included in your special day and do you have any specific ideas or already written script?
4. Where will the Ceremony be held? Is it big enough for the attendees and if outside is there a rain location?
5. Have practices for the Ceremony been set and can all involved attend?
6. Do you have on hand all the necessary items, supplies and tools for the Ceremony?
7. Do you have an outline of the Ceremony available for those involved?
8. Do you have all legal paper work in order and filed?
The way I and many others use the terms “wedding “and “handfasting” distinguishes commitment ceremonies that have a legal aspect (weddings) with those that do not (handfastings). Both celebrate two people who choose to join paths with the knowledge and support of their community.
Some people chose to be handfasted because they can not legally be married in the eyes of the law, such as same sex couples. There are many other reasons some may choose handfasting over marriages however. The best example of the need for handfastings is made beautifully clear in the case of Joan and Paul.
Well into their 60’s, they and their spouses had been fast friends for many years, their kids, then their grandkids, growing up together. When their partners died, they moved in together to share expenses and a deep romance based on a long friendship developed. Yet, they could not marry. Legally, she would lose medical benefits as well as other forms of financial income.
They contacted me and I was honored to perform their handfasting. Surrounded by family and friends, she wearing a white lace dress and he in a tux, they said vows they and written for each other and exchanged rings. Their vows were so different than the young and middle aged couples I have officiated for. When they looked back on their lives and then to the future together, their feelings and thoughts were so very wise and honest…
She took his hand and talked about a long life full of love and happiness, kids and family, then she looked into his eyes and said, “But I choose to watch the sunset with you.” He took her other hand and spoke about his career and watching his kids grow and have families of their own, caring for his wife in the last years, then looked so softly at her and said, “But I will enjoy the beauty of our sunset with you.”
Yeah… Try not crying in the middle of that ceremony. Was hard, but the minister is always supposed to be in control of herself. I cried later… a lot.
There are many reasons why a couple, who have a choice at all, may choose to be handfasted instead of legally married, this is only one.